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While we all knew that the ballpark where we spend money on garlic fries and crab sandwiches would have a new name for the 2019 season, there was a deadly finality to the images last week of the letters being peeled off Safeco Field, one by one, suspended in the air a moment before being deposited on the ground. In an off-season that’s so far been marked by change and upheaval, it seems tonally correct, if jarring. I would not have been surprised at all to learn that Mike Zunino used to kip in the O at night in order to make sure he was at the ballpark bright and early the next morning.
But Safeco Field is dead now and a new corporate overlord has seemingly taken its place, all hail T-Mobile. Maury Brown over at Forbes has the details, which are sketchy at the time, as the Mariners haven’t officially confirmed the new name yet. But this fits with something our own staffer Jake heard rumblings of over a week ago, so it seems like a credible report. Supposedly the first year will run the good folks in pink $6M, although the length of the deal and other money matters haven’t yet been disclosed.
John did some digging to rank this reported deal against some other sports complexes: the Warriors are getting $10M a year from Chase to stick the bank’s logo all over their brand spanking new arena; MetLife is shelling out over half a billion dollars over 25 years for the right to have their name on the stadium where the Giants and Jets play (lol); the Mets, who aren’t interested in Manny Machado, receive a cool $20M per year from Citi. The multi-purpose Scotiabank Arena in Ontario, which houses the Raptors and the Maple Leafs, among other things, has the heftiest naming rights deal, at $639M for just over 20 years. Football, unsurprisingly, tends to command the wealthiest deals. The heaviest hitters in MLB include Citi Field, Sun Trust Park at $9M/year, and Minute Maid Park, at about $6.5M a year. If this deal goes as reported, that would put T-Mobile Park/Field (still feels weird) in the upper echelon of naming rights.
T-Mobile is headquartered in Germany, but they have a large campus in Factoria responsible for over 1200 jobs in the region. It’s worth noting that Mariners majority owner John Stanton is linked to T-Mobile: Stanton has a long history of being involved in the telecom industry, beginning in the 1980s, and one of his companies, VoiceStream Wireless, was acquired by Deutsche Telecom in 2001 and eventually became T-Mobile USA. T-Mobile is currently in the process of trying to acquire Sprint, which would significantly increase the company’s reach, although the FCC is still determining if they’re going to allow that to happen.
There’s another Mariners connection to T-Mobile, as well; Edgar Martinez’s wife Holli is VP of Diversity and Inclusion at T-Mobile, a position she was named to this July after acting as “Senior Director” for the past two years. Promoting women to vice presidencies, imagine that! [Side-eyes the Mariners’ FO staff very hard.]
Update: in the time I was working on this blurb, my internet totally dropped out (Verizon’s quiet protest, maybe?), and when I was able to get back online, I found there had been an update to the situation:
And now - a statement from a T-Mobile spokesperson: “We’re always looking for ways to show our hometown love but we don’t have any news to share at this time.” https://t.co/jZh4G73Usy— Bhavisha Patel (@BhavishaPatel) November 15, 2018
As of yet the Mariners do not have an agreement with a naming rights partner. The PFD still has to vote on the final lease agreement before the team will be able to have a final agreement with the naming rights partner. The vote is expected to take place in the next few weeks.— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) November 15, 2018
Hmm. I think I would get used to saying “T-Mobile Park,” anyway. What do you think we’ll call it for short? Meet me at the T? Gonna head down to the Mobe? See you at TMP? (Okay, maybe not that last one, imagine the mix-ups with EMP).
And also, everyone just go ahead and get all your T-Mobile coverage jokes out now. I’m already over them.
[is in an area with exactly two large trees and one hill]— Grant Brisbee (@GrantBrisbee) November 15, 2018
"What the hell? The Mariners broadcast just dropped." https://t.co/zD0JRKW87a